'We are not rebelling against our party.'
'We are not fence-crossers.'
Bharatiya Janata Party MP Shatrughan Sinha -- who is known for often taking a different stand than his party -- is now part of the Rashtra Manch launched by senior BJP leader Yashwant Sinha.
"I feel too much attention is being given to irrelevant issues to digress attention from actual problems. A case in point is the Padmaavat controversy. It was highly unnecessary and totally uncalled for," Shatrughan Sinha tells Subhash K Jha.
When and how did the Rashtra Manch happen?
It was an idea floating in some of our restless heads for a while.
You know how hard it is for me to keep a secret (laughs). Special mention must be made of individuals like Ghanshyam Tiwari and K C Singh who made this possible.
But I had to keep the plans under wraps until we actually launched the Rashtra Manch. And now here we are.
How does it feel?
To have a forum, a platform where I can express myself and, most importantly, be able to work towards bettering the country is extremely liberating.
I can't tell you how free I feel.
Khuli hawaa mein saasns lene ka mazaa hi kuch aur hai (what a joy it is to breathe fresh air).
But the BJP never stopped you from speaking.
They never allowed me to do anything other than speaking.
I seemed to serve no purpose beyond being an outspoken member of my party.
I felt my party was treating me like a stepson. Quite honestly I felt stifled.
Yashwant Sinhaji is someone I have respected and been associated with for a long time.
When he came up with this idea of a non-political forum, I was completely up for it.
You see, we are not a breakaway party. We are not rebelling against our party. We are not fence-crossers.
So, what is the purpose of the Rashtra Manch?
Let me first tell you what is not its purpose.
We are not fighting any election. So in that sense we are not a political party.
Our motive for coming together is to bring real change and reform in the social order.
I am not just talking about (doing) lip service, but (bringing) real changes.
Like addressing the financial issues, looking into the needs of the poor.
We will be addressing farmers' issues, unemployment, internal and external security issues.
I feel too much attention is being given to irrelevant issues to digress attention from actual problems.
A case in point is the Padmaavat controversy. It was highly unnecessary and totally uncalled for.
Would you be allowed to address real issues?
Why would we not be allowed?
Doesn't our honourable prime minister, the country's biggest and strongest action hero Narendra Modiji, want changes and reform to happen?
We've floated this party to strengthen his hand.
Are you confident that your new party can make a difference?
We have our hearts and goals in the right place. We've like-minded people in the party.
Political optimists like Pavan Varma, Dinesh Tiwary, Renuka Chowdhary, Som Pal are with us.
We feel empowered and hopeful.
BJP spokesperson Krishna Saagar Rao from Telangana has accused Yashwant Sinha and you of crossing all limits.
Iss Saagar me kitni gehrayee hai yeh toh sabko maloom hai (Everyone knows how deep is this sea).